Friday, January 30, 2009

fatboy lives

Heard last night that Samuel French wants to publish an acting edition of Fatboy.

Which means that high school drama guilds across the land will soon be shouting "Motherfuck!" in unison and learning how to pull top hats out of their collective ass.

It's all about the kids, finally.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

save the date

This is something we should all be at:

Public Forum on Small Theatres

NYC COMMUNITY BOARDS 1, 3, 4 and 5 Present:




16 Gramercy Park South

Manhattan Community Boards One, Three, Four and Five are coming together for an unprecedented joint Public Forum on Small Theaters. Small theaters are an important part of the sustainability and resilience of small businesses and local economies; small theaters are an economic engine because they encourage residents to spend in their own communities and draw additional audiences from around the City and beyond for early evening activities. On a macro level, small theaters serve as the Research & Development arm of the commercial entertainment industries, locating new talent and acting as incubators for bold new ideas and risk taking. Unfortunately, many of the smaller theaters that bring so much life to our neighborhoods are closing their doors or in danger of closing. The problem is acute. The economic climate, along with the rising cost of real estate are making it difficult for smaller theaters to retain their spaces for performances, rehearsals and offices. With the closing of the Zipper Theater last week in CB4, almost 30 percent of Midtown performance venues have been demolished recently, along with 25 percent of West Village Theaters. In the Nineties, the most of the Lower East Side's theaters were repurposed for bars (e.g. Pianos) or displaced and laid vacant and demolished by speculation (e.g. Present Company and Collective Unconscious). The Community Boards realize that when the theaters leave, the cultural richness and attractiveness of their neighborhoods will diminish, and opportunities for local artists go away. The goals of the Public Forum on Small Theaters are (1) to clearly explain the depth and urgency of the issues facing smaller theaters; (2) to offer potential solutions based on expert opinion from communities outside of New York where there have been successes, and from experts in New York; and (3) to gather community support to advocate for changes that will help the theaters and ensure their survival.

For further information:


Please Note:
East 20th Street between Park Avenue South and Third Avenue has been
renamed Gramercy Park South.

to Union Square, walk up Park Avenue South to East 20th Street and
turn right

to 23rd Street, walk down Park Avenue South to East 20th Street and
turn left

to Broadway and 23rd Street, walk on 23rd Street to Park Avenue, walk down Park Avenue to East 20th Street and turn left

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Truth shall be revealed

Heard from Greg K. that Dramatists Play Service is publishing The Truth About Santa.

Let the candy cane of the Apocalypse be loosed throughout the land.

Struggling through a mid-winter writer's drought here at the Museum, had to bail on a thing Matt Oberg put together. He needed ten minutes, I had none.

Gilles Deleuze has this to offer:

"How else can one write but of those things which one doesn't know, or knows badly? It is precisely there that we imagine having something to say. We write only at the frontiers of our knowledge, at the border which separates our knowledge from our ignorance and transforms the one into the other. Only in this manner are we resolved to write. To satisfy ignorance is to put off writing until tomorrow - or rather, to make it impossible."

And the blank screen stares back, unblinking.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

random Tuesday

Back in Rat City and the work is piling up.

Having a little trouble keeping my head straight so far this year.

Too much travel, too many projects, too few hours in the day.

Going to clean up this desk and stop my belly-aching now.

Ann and Steve get a Pepsi for knowing The Suicidal Tendencies and Rose gets an apology for the vicious slur associating her with any national socialist water sports activity.

Monday, January 26, 2009

monday, monday

Hilarious weekend in the woods with Ambrose and Mary. Me and Spitfire are still camped out here, waiting for some furniture to be delivered, sipping coffee and staring at the squirrels.

Still very strange to me to be a homeowner after so many years of near-vagrancy. I keep expecting the Good Citizens Committee to come around and expose me as the wastrel poet vagabond I actually am and demand the keys. I wave to the neighbors but can't really meet their eyes yet.

I'm just out here passing.

Busy week ahead so let's get the quiz out of the way.

The I-Pod was shuffling along Saturday night and up popped the great L.A. punk rock classic "Institutionalized".

Who just wanted a Pepsi?

1. X

2. Suicidal Tendencies

3. The Young and the Worthless

4. Black Flag


5. Rose Howard and the Nazi Surfers?

Losers get the padded cell, winners get the aforementioned cola.

Friday, January 23, 2009

west coast love

I heard last night that Fatboy was nominated for six L.A. Weekly Theater Awards including best direction and best ensemble.

Congrats to Ian, Matt and the whole needtheater crew.

Holed up in the mountain hideaway for the weekend, keeping an eye peeled for bears.

Stay safe out there.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

the ohio gets six months

So the Ohio Theater has at least six more months. I've spent so much time within those walls, watching or creating work that it has grown to be a home. Thinking all morning about it, made me reach back into the vault.

Wrote this about seven years ago:


When the event of theater begins, does the place of the event become a theater? We believe, reflexively and grandly, that all the world is a stage and the adventurous directors among us see performance sites everywhere. Brook, traveling the world, carried only a carpet, unrolling it to create a stage. But did the desert become a theater? There is a critical difference between a stage and a theater, of course. There are stages in restaurants, every bar has a stage, but they remain, stubbornly, bars. We speak of someone always being “on”, but never of someone constantly “in”. Theaters, it seems, are like churches or schools. You can celebrate a sacrament or learn from a master anywhere, but when you’re getting married on a beach at Waikiki or in a hot air balloon over Kansas, no one asks directions to the church.

Building an actual theater, a building or room expressly designed or modified for theatre to happen within, is an illuminating and humbling experience. In the winter of 1994 we converted a 2000 sq/ft loft on the fourth floor of what used to be a theatrical curtain factory in Hells Kitchen into a rehearsal/performance/office space. In the summer of 1998 we turned a 7500 sq/ft auto garage on the Lower East Side into the Theatorium. The steps of conversion were the same.

First, you survey the site. With no instruments and ideally alone, you roam the space. At first you move seemingly at random, stopping to stare at a detail in the ceiling or the wall, moving on. This must be what it feels like to douse for water with a wooden stick. What you are looking for is not clear, but you are clearly looking. Examining, testing the room for its pressure points, its natural orientation. Many images flood through you at this time and project themselves onto the empty space. These are all invariably grainy reproductions of previous theaters you have worked in or know and they should all be examined carefully and then dismissed. Every space has its own unique and underlying structure, balance and harmony. It is your job to recognize and manifest them.

The second stage is cleaning. Unlike surveying, this is best done with as many people as possible and in marathon sessions. The people who clean the space should be the people who will work in it. The sessions should start early, break for communal meals eaten in the space, and then continue until you are exhausted or alone. Take note of those who stay the longest. These are the people who will work the hardest in the theater that you are building. Cleaning is not only purifying the space, it is the establishment of your relationship to the space and whatever ghosts may inhabit it. You are saying “To the best of my powers I will keep the dirt, grime and cobwebs of the world out of this space. I will guard against clutter and neglect. There will be nothing unintentional or random here.” This is an agreement with the space which you must be constantly aware of and which you will constantly break. It is a vow to be continually renewed.

The third step is the placement of the stage. This is enjoyable and momentous, but not truly significant. Once the stage area of the space is designated, you will find yourself and others naturally orienting around it. The building of a stage is a group effort requiring coordination, strength, precision and constant adjustment. Once a physical stage is built or an area of the floor is painted and demarcated as a stage it begins to feel that you have built a theater. In truth you have only built a stage. The significant step, the step that alters the room utterly and creates a theater where before there was a room, is the placement of the audience area. It is only when the risers or a row of chairs or cushions have been placed in opposition to the stage that a theater begins to exist.

One night after we had spent the day building the stage and the risers in the Theatorium, I was alone, sweeping up as I had a dozen times before. Sweeping has always been an enjoyable, meditative task for me, so I was dreaming away, mechanically brushing the broom against the concrete floor when I felt a mild electric current pass through my arms and chest. I looked up from the floor, startled, to discover I had stepped between the stage and the risers. With this realization the current grew strong and steady, not oscillating, not seeming to come from any one direction, but somehow contained or pressurized between the stage and the house. I was no longer sweeping up an auto garage. I was sweeping up a theater. I looked to the left to the risers we had built hours before. They were ancient, watching, awake. I looked to the right at the stage we had finished that morning. It was ageless, open and waiting. And I felt, viscerally, actually, on my skin, how the theater exists not in either place, stage or audience, but only and completely in the place where they meet, the place where I stood holding a broom. The feeling lasted all of twenty seconds and as I turned back and forth from the risers to the stage, the lights seemed slightly brighter and my vision seemed slightly sharper and I became exquisitely aware of my own breath and my body’s position in the room. The current grew less and gradually faded down to the slightest buzz, slight enough so that I could no longer tell if I were creating it or if it were still actually there, like listening to the twin tines of a tuning fork when you can no longer see them vibrate. Ever since that night I have felt that slight buzz when I have stepped between the audience and the stage of that theater, which is one of the reasons that theater will always be a special, sacred space for me.

After the stage and the risers are placed, you begin the process of concealing the space with curtains and black paint. This is an interesting phase because you are hiding things in order to reveal others. Dressing rooms and lobbies and supply closets and offices are constructed. If you have any money, this is when you purchase and install the lights and the grids and the sound system. For me this always felt strange and extraneous, like strapping klieg lights and an outboard motor to a wooden canoe you have carved from a tree trunk. Others enjoy this stage greatly, it is simply a matter of taste.

The final stage in building a theater occurs on the opening night of your first production. It does not matter what the show is or how, in your estimation, it goes off. The essential thing is that at least one stranger comes in off the street, glances around, sits and grows quiet as the performance begins. When the performance is over and they rise and leave, you have built a theater. Again, it does not matter what, if anything, they say to you about the performance or even if they stayed awake through most of it. Their presence is the essential thing. When they have left and the actors appear from out of the back and the designers begin to adjust and the director begins to talk, leave the theater if you can and stand outside in the world, breathing in the night air. Then turn and walk into your theater. Find a broom and start sweeping.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I was mainlining MSNBC yesterday, eyes glued to what everyone else was watching.

After about four hours I got a little tired of every talking head telling me I was watching History and muted Chris and Keith and the rest of the crew. I knew what I was watching, didn't need a bunch of hyped-up tour guides babbling at me while I was just trying to enjoy the view.

Of all the images yesterday, it wasn't until the helicopter lifted off and the Idiot and Laura were actually gone that it really hit me.

We survived.

We are damaged and bone-deep screwed in ways we don't even understand or know about yet, sure, but the country survived eight years of systematic attack.

Dick Cheney, completing his Dr. Strangelove transformation right on time, is out of power. The military tribunals in Guantanamo are suspended.

First steps, baby steps, but any step away from the abyss is a good one.

Gob knows what the next four years will bring, but the New Crazies won't be answering that midnight phone call and that lets me sleep a little easier.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

shiver me timbers

Great day working down in Philly. Typing this in the offices of Melanie Stewart Dance, right downtown.

Temperature falling outside and already plenty cold enough for me.

O Lord.

More tomorrow unless we got frostbite.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

on the road again

Heading down to Philadelphia this afternoon for a four day intensive with Melanie Stewart Dance. Working on a live dance competition piece for Live Arts.

Good fun.

Thanks to all who came and saw The Event. That thing has a life somewhere, have to figure out where, when and how.

All right.

Off to the Chinatown bus.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

RIP Tom O'Horgan

The man responsible for Hair, Lenny and Jesus Christ Superstar is dead in Florida at 84.

Those were his uptown hits, but he worked forever downtown, mostly at La Mama and he's quoted as saying his Broadway success was "an aberration of some sort."

Makes me think about success and how you can't aim for two targets if you expect to hit either.

If you put up a challenging, subversive, formally innovative work of art you should just be happy you got away with it and be grateful to whomever shows up. If a wider, more mainstream audience connects with it, that's gravy. Delicious, career-sustaining gravy, perhaps, but still just gravy.

Ann has got the Vulcan mindmeld working again, I was going for Johnny over Edgar with the MMMQ.

Mostly I just wanted to type the words "American albino bluesmen".

Got to do it again, look at that.

Monday, January 12, 2009

last chance, kids

Tonight at 8:00, 27 Barrow Street, 63 minutes of high-stakes hilarity.

Philip Fisher saw it on Saturday and writing for the British Theater Guide says, among other nice things:

"With Matt Oberg on top form and a script that provokes thought throughout and long after the final curtain but is also generously endowed with laughs, The Event is a real delight."

So come on down.

We ran out to the woods last night, driving back in for the show this afternoon, but right now I'm looking out the window at an ice-encased winter wonderland, every branch of every tree dazzling in the sun.


Our MMMQ tests your knowledge of American albino bluesmen.

Who is arguably the greatest American albino bluesman to ever come out of Beaumont, Texas?

Is it:

1. Edgar Winter

2. Johnny Winter

3. Boz Scaggs

4. Billy Ocean


5. Elvis Aron Presley?

Losers look like Frankenstein, winners get a free ride.

Friday, January 09, 2009

big weekend

Not only can you check out The Event at Barrow Street Theatre, but the wunderkinds over at Stolen Chair Theater are opening their latest at the Connelly tonight, Theater is Dead and So Are You.

These are the folks behind Kill Me Like You Mean It and Kinderspiel, two of the best things I've seen in NYC in recent years.

Here's the blurb:

Theatre is Dead and So Are You is an irreverent funeral for the stage. A
ragtag bunch of variety hacks are laying their sometimes beloved MC to rest,
performing his funeral live, travelling from city to city, until such time as his
body is too decomposed to make the proceedings pleasant. Their "eulogies" are
performed à la classic variety, with slapstick, melodrama, song & dance, and
feats of illusion and mentalism, each taking its own deadly turn as they celebrate
the life and death of their dearly departed dead dead dead friend. Even in their
joyous performance, a spectre looms as each knows they've all been exposed to
the fatal disease that killed their MC: Life. Watch these seasoned has-beens kill
theatre, live before your very eyes.

Catch it if you can and I'll see you at Barrow Street.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Event @ Barrow Street Theater

We're wasting no time here at the Museum.

Got in late last night after a two-hour delay out of St. Louis, sitting on the runway, remembering back to the days when flying was kind of fun, before you had to get undressed to get through security and they charged you if you brought luggage along on your trip.

Just rehearsing my cranky old man routine so I'll be ready when the time comes.

Here's today's plug:

Come on down to the Barrow Street Theater, 27 Barrow Street in the West Village and see Matt Oberg in The Event, a little thing I wrote and directed. We play Sat, Jan. 10 @ 5:00, Sun, Jan 11 @ 3:00 and Mon, Jan 12 @ 8:00. It's part of Fortnight, an annual festival BST puts together. You can go on and see the whole line-up.

First day back in the office and I'm already about two days behind.

Good to be busy when you consider the alternative.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

travel day

Packing it up and flying home.

We hit the ground running tomorrow, The Event is up at Barrow Street Theater this weekend. If you haven't seen it yet, make an effort, it's a beautiful thing that I'm quite proud of.

Let's start this year, already.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

glazed and bleary

St. Louis is coated in a half-inch of ice this morning, that beautiful freezing rain the city is famous for during the winter months.

The birthday girl and I are dazed and blinking, unused to so many days off as we are.

Back to Rat City tomorrow, hustle and bustle to follow.

Ann hedged her bets right, it was Tempted that we swayed to back in the day. Backstory there is that we were both engaged to other people when we met.

Oh, it was steamy.

Thanks all for the birthday wishes, I have passed them on to the Natal Queen.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Happy Nan Day

I write to you from the Middle of the West, Mound City, land of fried ravioli, in the shadow of the Arch, St. Louis, Missouri.

Here with family until the 7th.

Today commences the annual week-long celebration marking the birth of Nancy Eileen Walsh aka Spitfire McGee aka Ms. Scrappy Jack.

Bring forth the clam dip and let us rejoice.

In honor of Herself, the first MMMQ of 2009 asks:

What was the young and love-struck John and Nancy's song back in 1988 when first they pitched woo back and forth under the merciless Dallas, TX sun?

Was it:

1. Tempted, by Squeeze

2. Medicine Show, by Big Audio Dynamite

3. Downstream, by the Rainmakers

4. Two out of Three Ain't Bad, by Meatloaf


5. On Eagle's Wings, by John Ashcroft and the New Crazies

Take a guess and welcome to the brand new year.